To our horror Malala Yousufzai was targeted by the Taliban Tuesday morning. For Pakistan and people across the globe, the good news is that Malala Yousufzai appears to be recovering. The 14-year-old was shot a day ago by gunmen who stopped her school van in Swat and singled her out by name. The Pakistani Taliban (as opposed to the Afghans) have claimed responsibility. Her crime was to speak out against the bombing of schools in her district where she felt that she and every other girl had the right to an education. After the Taliban took over the Swat valley in 2003 they issued an edict, saying that all schools for girls would be closed. Thus began a slow but systemic move to shut, attack or bomb schools across the area.
“Since today was the last day of our school, we decided to play in the playground a bit longer,” Malala wrote in a diary that was published by the BBC Urdu service in 2009. She was just 11 years old when she started to write anonymously. “My mother liked my pen name 'Gul Makai',” says an entry from January 15, 2009. “[She] said to my father 'why not change her name to Gul Makai?' I also like the name because my real name [Malala] means 'grief stricken'.” Gul Makai means sunflower in Pashto. As I read her entries, I was taken back to my childhood when I read the words of another girl – Anne Frank. She wrote in a different time and place, to be sure, but there was something that I felt tied them together.